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The Rising Rate of Turnover

October 1, 2018

This article, excerpted from Dr. Blane Covert's doctoral dissertation, looks at the statistics behind Head of School and Superintendent turnover.


Ruoss (1992) wrote that “Given the complexity of the job [of Head of School] and the personal demands attached to it, it is little wonder that the rate of turnover among independent school Heads has increased rapidly throughout the last decade” (pp. 42-43). It should not be surprising, then, to learn that the turnover rate for school leaders remains relatively high. Owen and Ovando (2000) found that the median tenure for U.S. Superintendents was less than three years. McDaniel (2003) asserted that “School boards will dismiss some [Superintendents]; others will remove themselves from one position and pursue another superintendency” (p. 2). In related research, Grissom and Andersen (2012) found that “conflict with the school board is often an important factor in a Superintendent exit” (p. 1154).


Moreover, a number of Headmasters retire every year. According to Glass and Franceschini (2007), “Just over 39% of Superintendents indicate they visualize themselves retired within the next 5 years (p. 31). Cosca (2010) commented that “Many have called the superintendency the most complex job in America” (p. 31), which certainly contributes to the turnover rate.


In recent years, searches for both independent school Headmasters and public school Superintendents have steadily increased. In fact, the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) (2010) reported that “independent schools face large-scale leadership transitions and potential challenges at both the administrator and Head of School level” (p. 4).


Academy Educational Consulting helps Boards gain the skills and perspective needed to better manage the Head of School/Superintendent search and selection process. To learn more, contact Academy today at 501-230-0881.



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